Tuesday, 10 October 2017 07:55

Miraka farmers lift milk quality

Written by  Peter Burke
The quality of milk coming from Miraka suppliers has improved, the processor says. The quality of milk coming from Miraka suppliers has improved, the processor says.

An incentive scheme to get suppliers to the Taupo-based Miraka dairy company to produce better quality milk and adopt best-practice systems is producing stunning results.

That’s the view of Miraka’s milk supply manager, Grant Jackson, who says only four of the company’s suppliers are not in the scheme, though they will be when they sign up to new supply contracts by the end of the year.

The scheme, called Te Ara Miraka, now in its second season, is producing amazing results, Jackson says. It rewards suppliers for meeting five criteria – people, environment, animal welfare, milk quality and prosperity. Within these are 31 criteria of which 13 are mandatory. These in turn are extrapolated out into a points system – all told 100.

If a supplier passes on the mandatory items he gets some incentive, but if he gets the full 100 points he will earn an extra 20 cents/kgMS at the end of the season (reduced pro rata depending on how many points a farmer gets). Last year one Miraka supplier got 98 points.

“We are starting to see good engagement right across the board,” Jackson says. “We have seen our mean somatic cell count, which is a very distinct indicator of milk quality, drop by an average of 10,000 cells per year in just one year simply because we are incentivising people to be better, rather than penalising them when they are not. That number is a great milestone.”

He says Te Ara Miraka is taking farmers on a journey of excellence and the company wants its suppliers to be first class operators. In the normal course of events he’d expect the average additional incentive payout to be about 10 cents, but he says in the first year alone it was 13 cents and he believes this will increase.

To this end Miraka is running a focus day for its farmers this week when they can talk to rural professionals who can help them achieve their targets.

“Rather than us saying ‘here are the initiatives, go get them’, we are actually supporting them with resources and templates. Yes, there is a commercial cost to that but we believe the outcome is worthwhile and something we can leverage off to build our own consumer brands, and it means we are talking the talk about our organisational values,” says Jackson. He says as more farmers achieve the present standards, it’s likely that over time Miraka will update these to reflect new trends and objectives.


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